Insect Imagery in Northwest Coast Art
July 11 - 31
This exhibition is a celebration of the diversity of insect life on the Northwest Coast and their representation in contemporary visual art. Modest, discrete, and oft-forgotten in favour of their larger peers, insects play an important role in both the maintenance of the local ecosystem as well as in First Nations symbolism. Contemporary artists explore the mythologies surrounding insects and experiment with their visual manifestations through a variety of media, pushing the limits of traditional First Nations art. Carefully curated over the course of a year, The Buzz provides a unique perspective of the history, narratives, and imagery fueling the continued creation of contemporary Northwest Coast art.
Kwakwaka’wakw artist Rande Cook evokes the serene beauty of the gentle dragonfly in his panel, The Fortune Bringer. In his words, “the dragonfly is thought to be the harbinger of wealth and prosperity,” bringing good luck to those fortunate enough to encounter one. Cook’s multi-tonal blues communicates the dragonfly’s importance as a ‘gift’ from the spirit world to the earthly realm, while swirling colours and geometric forms conjure the dragonfly’s swift flight and its elegant movement through wind and over water.
Isabel Rorick’s delicately woven Prayer for the Bumblebees explores the ecological impact of a declining bumblebee population while elevating Haida basket weaving, historically the purview of women, to the level of sculpture.
Marcel Russ’ expertly crafted, double sided bracelet, A Day in the Garden, captures a multi-layered scene of ladybugs and hummingbirds amidst an abundance of flora. Serving as homage to the critical role of insects in the maintenance of the delicate ecological balance, this bracelet is a masterpiece of Northwest Coast metalwork.
Junior Henderson’s Butterfly is a play of negative space that hearkens to the legend of Numis and the Butterfly. Legend has it that a great flood washed over the land and left the elderly Numis trapped at the top of the tallest mountain. Witnessing his plight, a butterfly landed on Numis and gave him water to quench his growing thirst. The butterfly continued to provide sustenance until the waters eventually subsided, thereby saving his life and allowing the story to be passed through the generations.
We invite you to enjoy this whimsical collection!